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Heart of Hats




I haven't been this excited about a hat designer since Eugenia Kim first made a splash. New York-based designer Terry Graziano crafts dramatic, sophisticated styles boasting clean lines, mystery-inducing asymmetrical cuts or coquettish rounded rims, and whimsical, feminine details like tiny bow accents. But probably the most fascinating aspect of Graziano's designs is that they're meant to be worn in multiple ways — Graziano cleverly manipulates the fabrics she employs (which range from wool and cashmere to silk and cotton) to create multi-purpose designs that transform with a simple tilt or the folding of a brim.

Just look at two of my favorite designs, pictured above. The first is the "Sweetheart" style, shown here in a blue-and-black herringbone wool & cashmere blend. The double lapel-like, criss-crossed rounded brims add a whimsical feel, as does the black ribbon detail. The hat is so soft it will literally adapt to the shape of your head for a comfortable fit, and you can fold the brim and twist the hat in various ways, experimenting with different looks. The second featured style is the "Maven," pictured in a deep magenta hue. With its asymmetrical brim, luxurious and soft wool & cashmere fabric, and exquisite stitching, the "Maven" style is a bold statement piece.Wear this hat when walking down the street and everyone will wonder just who you are. Gotta keep 'em guessing, right?

So who is the brilliant mastermind behind these designs? Here's a little background on the fabulous Terry Graziano.

Born and raised in Mercerville, New Jersey (a suburb of Trenton), Graziano credits her older sisters with sparking her interest in fashion, recalling how she'd thumb through their magazines (that is, until she was able to buy her very first magazine, a September issue of Seventeen, the summer before going to high school). She briefly studied fashion design at the Masters Program at Philadelphia's Drexel University, dropping out after completing her sewing and patternmaking training. Graziano then worked for a Philadelphia-based separates designer, assisting with everything from patternmaking to cutting and shipping. And, after moving to New York, she worked at a multi-line showroom, immersing herself in the business side of the fashion industry: from book-keeping to designer outreah. These experiences gave Graziano a wealth of knowledge to draw upon when launching her own independent business.

Graziano's first design ( completed while studying at Drexel), was lovingly dubbed "The Moon Hat," Graziano describes it as a little beanie with one black side and one white side, with a split down the very middle separating each half. Wanting to mimic the changing lunar phases, Graziano sewed black and white buttons around the hat, and the proportion of these  embellishments changed as you rotated the hat. Once it was completed, Graziano quickly sold the hat at a Philadelphia street fair. She might not have known it back then, but that was a sign of the frenzy her hats would create in the future.

Through the years, Graziano has sold her gorgeous hats at street fairs, craft fairs, retails shows, and through her own website (TerryGraziano.com) but, when she opened up an Etsy.com account, Graziano saw her client base balloon beyond her wildest expectations. Landing placement in magazines like NYLON and Ebony and being spotted by hot blogs (like this one!), Graziano's name is making its way through the fashion media circles.

A fan of hats herself, Graziano says, "Hats provide a frame for a woman’s most important features:  her face and her eyes. Hats can show your mood or mask it. They can help you hide or draw attention to yourself.  And they can definitely lift your spirits. To me, they are magical!"

And "magical" is the perfect word to describe her designs.

Blue "Sweetheart" hat, $115; Magenta "Maven" hat, $185. Visit Terrygraziano.etsy.com

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